US Reiterates Defense Ties with India, Silent on Visa Denials

Robert Palladino, the State Department deputy spokesperson

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Washington, DC – The United States this week asserted that defense ties with India are expanding and that there are increasing number of official visits from either sides to cement those ties. The US State Department, which deals with visa issues, didn’t address the specific cases as is the normal policy of the department, but the denial of two high level official visas had raised doubts if there was a change in the bilateral defense cooperation.

In response to a question from IAT on why at least two top Indian defense officials were denied visas after both had accepted invitations from US government agencies, Robert Palladino, the State Department deputy spokesperson told journalists, “The United States-India defense and security cooperation is rapidly expanding as part of our deepening strategic partnership, and India is one of the premier security partners in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Without addressing the cases of two officials raised by the IAT, Palladino said, “So as part of that effort, exchanges, reciprocal visits between American and Indian defense officials – they’re increasing at an unprecedented pace.”

“We – the United States, we seek to expand our defense and security cooperation with India, and that includes defense and security officials,” spokesperson Palladino concluded his answer at the State Department briefing.

At the US State Department press briefing IAT had asked if the US-India defense policies were changing as G Shatheesh, Secretary DRDO and Guru Prasad DG Production Coordination and Services Interface, were both denied visas for attending different meetings within a gap of a few weeks recently. Ironically, Secretary Shatheesh had accompanied the Indian defense minister to the US as recent as December 2018 while Prasad is a frequent visitor to the US according to sources with knowledge of the details. There has been no comments from the Indian government.

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